Gooey Ganchos

The are multiple varieties of Ganchos. We have explored the 4 most common ones, today we’re exploring a variant of the idea known as the ‘Gooey’ Gancho. Specifically what makes it ‘Gooey’ and how does it get it’s name. The reason this variety of Gancho is called ‘Gooey’ has everything to do with the speed of the Gancho itself, but it also has to do with the choice of the Gancho in certain respects, as you’ll see. That said, let’s talk about ‘GooeyGanchos.

What is a ‘GooeyGancho ? In specific it means that while this particular variety is usually executed from the Follower’s position, the Lead can and should under certain conditions engage in the same variation but not for the same reasons that the Follower will. So what is it ? In specific it is a slow motion Gancho, and in particular the ‘Launching’ leg of the dancer who is being “Gancho’d”. Everything prior to the Gancho happening is not the ‘Gooey’ part. The ‘Gooey’ part comes when the leg that is being lifted moves to engage the hooking action of the Gancho in a very slow, but very deliberate way. Very slow. 🙂

Tango Warning: Before we go any further, it is strongly recommended that you watch the 4 Common Ganchos first and have practiced them religiously before attempting these. This is not something a beginner should attempt in any way, shape, or form. This is clearly very advanced material. The material in this video should only be attempted by someone who has mastered their walk (sans wobbling or wavering, or needing to hold on to anyone in any way, shape, or form, and that includes forward steps, back steps, and side steps for both roles). And so that we’re absolutely crystal clear here because every beginner lead asks this question “how long should I have been dancing before I try these ?”. There is no rational answer to this question because time is not the factor that makes a damned bit of difference. Time on the floor is what makes a difference! So 6 months ? A year ? Two years ? No. Not that kind of time. However a good telltale sign that you may be ready for leading these movements is you have stopped watching the Follower’s feet, you have stopped using your arms to lead things, you understand and can employ a ‘no’ (or null) lead, you can employ disassociation without thinking about it.

From A Following Perspective while you’re not going to get led to these things all that often, there are a few things that we want to be aware of when engaging any Gancho. But before we go any further with what those things are. We have to talk a little bit about Gancho safety.

First and foremost, if you do not feel safe being led to a Gancho, don’t go there. While said Lead may ‘ask’ for a Gancho that doesn’t mean that you should do one! The Gancho is always, always, always your choice. And when we’re talking about the Gooey variety this is even more true than the 4 Common Ganchos! Secondly it should be noted that while the Gancho is your choice, you do have to make a decision about the Gancho. And that decision is based on what is sometimes referred as the ‘impatient’ lead. This is a kind of Lead/er that insists upon using vocabulary (like a ‘Gooey’ Gancho) without really understanding it, or having practiced it until the cows come home. They lead this stuff without a care in the world for what it looks like or how they’re doing it. The problem is that they’re going to lead this thing over and over and over again until you give in. Sometimes, more often than naught, this type of Lead/er will use their arms to insist that you Gancho. And until you do, you’ll get no peace. So this is the decision you’ll have to make, either you ‘give’ the Lead/er the Gancho or you risk paying the price for excessive use of force, repetition, and shall we say less than desirable Tango behavior. A good rule of thumb with this stuff (and really any advanced vocabulary) is always do you feel safe with this person ? If the answer is ‘no’, then don’t go there. And as it relates to any Gancho (and in specific the ‘Gooey’ variety), don’t Gancho. It’s that simple. This is your body, and quite honestly without you there is no dance. Be smart, listen to the lead (the action, not the person) and if you’re not being taken care of physically in the action or activity of the dance or the lead for X/Y/or Z, and being respected physiologically, then a Gancho (any variety) is quite literally out of the realm of possibility. Take care of you!

Moving On…

In every Gancho we have the Launching Leg or the ‘Free’ leg. Instead of just ‘throwing’ your leg up and behind, this is more like striking a matchstick more than anything else. Now enter the ‘Gooey’ Gancho part! With a normal Gancho we want that matchstick Free Leg to be quick, fast, and sharp. We want the back of our knee to come into clear, direct contact with our Lead’s thigh. We want the engagement of the leg to be full on contact, not dainty. With a ‘Gooey’ Gancho we still want the matchstick strike to happen, but the rest of the motion is slow, deliberate, and most importantly controlled!

The question that comes up for most Follower’s when being led to a ‘Gooey’ Gancho is how do you know that it’s a ‘Gooey’ Gancho ? There are 2 telltale signs that you’re expected to engage the ‘Gooey’ hook of your leg.

1.) The Music. La musica will tell you what you need to know. Specifically the ‘long’, stringy notes of Fresedo, Laurenz, D’Agostino, late DiSarli (50’s), late Calo, or very late Pugliese, or even (grrrrr) Piazzolla (uuuugh!). Tanturi, Canaro, Rodriguez, Malerba, Donato, Firpo, OTV, Demare, D’Arienzo, Troilo, Lomuto, and any early De Caro just isn’t going to cut it here. The compositions, musically speaking, are too ‘choppy’. So a ‘Gooey’ Gancho really isn’t possible musically speaking.

2.) The Speed. It’s all about the speed at which this variety of Gancho is led. If you’re feeling a slow motion to begin with, chances are, that the Lead (the person, not the action) is expecting a slowed motion, or a ‘Gooey’ Gancho.

From a Leading Perspective in every Gancho you’re leading, there is, to coin a phrase, a “need for speed”. In this instance, just the opposite is true. We want to move very, very, slowly. Deliberately. Controlled. Your motion here, or the lack therein is what creates the speed. The slower you move, the more that you’ll ensure a ‘Gooey’ Gancho!

That said, before we go any further, we have to talk a little bit about Gancho Safety and Gancho Sanity. Let’s start with the Sanity part first. Repeat this line before attempting this or any Gancho depicted on this site. Ready ? “I will lead this once with an experienced Follower, and then I will let it go”. Now the safety bit: Do not push, do not pull, do not use your arms in any way, shape, or form. You’re going to hurt someone, specifically your Follower! Do not force the Follower into a Gancho, ever. It’s not a pleasant experience. Further still do not try this with a novice, someone that’s just starting out either. They have no idea about this stuff, and it’s not your job to show them or introduce this stuff to them, that’s what a teacher is for. You are not one, you’re a social dancer, so….dance. Which is to say that teaching a beginner Follower on a social dance floor while at a Milonga makes you look bad. You’re not helping anyone out, you’re not doing that Follower a favor at all, ever. This is not what you want to hear but facts is facts, and as cool as a Gooey Gancho is, performing this because it’s fun for you, is no reason to do this with a beginner Follower who doesn’t know right from wrong, up from down, etc. It’s just not cool. Got it ?

Moving on…

This series of Ganchos, rightfully can be done from any of the 4 Common Ganchos, but they work really well from the Follower’s side step, or their Forward step! The trick to this Gancho series is the speed at which you lead it. Lead it slow, and you get your Gooey Gancho. Lead it quickly and it defeats the entire purpose of the Gooey part. There’s one caveat, among many, that we do want to focus on, there is a desire to compress, or pull the Follower into you, or to hold onto the Follower in the Gancho, and you can not do this. This creates an unstable Gancho. Truthfully the connection point of the Gancho, where your legs are touching is the support point, the arms don’t really matter all that much. They act as a visual frame not an actual one.



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About The Video. This video is 22:09 in length in 10 Sections.

Section 1 - Introduction - 00:00:35
Section 2 - Gooey Gancho Setup - 00:02:33
Section 3 - Possible Follower Exits - 00:02:45
Section 4 - Rotational Gooey Gancho - 00:03:25
Section 5 - Review - 00:01:31
Section 6 - The Missing Gooey Gancho - 00:03:51
Section 7 - Employing The ‘Launch’ Aspect - 00:02:00
Section 8 - The ‘Right’ Way - 00:01:12
Section 9 - The Real ‘Gooey’ Part - 00:02:20
Section 10 - Closing - 00:01:25

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From a Dancing Perspective truthfully this particular variety of Gancho can be a little creepy or can appear that way. There’s a reason for that justifiable creepiness. And it has everything to do with where the Lead is placing their body. Too close and it’s creepy, too far away and the Gancho fails. So there is a sweet spot of bodily position. Think of it as a comfort zone. Factually speaking the whole Gancho thing to begin with stretches the idea of the comfort zone, and this Gooey Gancho really stretches it to its breaking point. Having said all that, when this series of Ganchos is done they can appear quite elegant, and honestly speaking…they’re really cool. They do tend to show off the Follower, and this series of Ganchos are the quintessential ‘flashy’ move. Realistically you’re not going to see this variety all that much, but when you do take a moment to examine the precision of the dancers technique, that will give you an indicator of just how much time and effort they’ve spent on this stuff. 😉

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So, please, go right ahead, go watch all the presentation videos on youtube all you want. Because that's what they are 'Presentation' videos. The couple's that you're used to seeing are performing for the 15th row for a room full of people, they're not social dancing. Whereas this website is all about 'Social Dancing'. So please, go spend your time, trying to infer, and figure out how things may work in that situation. Bend your body this way or that, twist and force this position or that. Place your foot here or there and figure it out.  Which can be a lot of fun, but more than likely it won't help you, because you're missing something: The explanation from an experienced teacher! (ahem) ME!  The goal of youtube videos is to entice you to go study with those teachers in person. The goal of these videos is allow you to work at your own pace, in the comfort of your own space, so that you can play them over and over again to improve your understanding of the vocabulary or technique being described to therefore better your dancing experience. The goal of classes and workshops is to get you to come back over and over and over again, thereby spending more money with that teacher. This website and the videos under it are here to act as a resource for you to help you to improve your dance. Pay once and be done with it. 😉

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